Nothing says National Day like seeing the top stables ramp up their participation in the new season and Sunday at Sha Tin will bring out John Size and John Moore runners, in particular.
At this stage, Tony Cruz has already had 38 runners but will add another 10 on Sunday, six of them in the two Group Three feature events. But Moore has had only 31 runners at the first eight meetings but will have 12 at the National Day fixture, while Size will add nine runners in a single day to the 27 he has had so far.
Of course, part of that is the dominance in bigger races of these three yards and they will provide between them seven of the 10 declared starters in the National Day Cup (1,000m) and 11 of the 13 set to line up in the Celebration Cup (1,400m).
After a month on a diet of mostly low and middle grade racing, National Day is almost the unofficial kick-off for the season because we start to see the best horses return to action.
But, as Sunday shows, it can also be a returning point for some of the promising horses from the lesser grades and punters will be paying attention to the Shanghai Handicap (1,200m).
Unbeaten Bravo Watchman (Joao Moreira) and beaten-but-still-boomed Jing Jing Win (Zac Purton) return from a break with their eyes on higher prizes than the Class Three over 1,200m.
Both of them made a big impression last season in their first campaigns, but both finished 2016-17 early.
Trainer Chris So Wai-yin told the press recently the knee surgery to Bravo Watchman in April was a pre-emptory move after the then three-year-old had done enough for his first preparation winning three from three.
So said he asked for the big gelding to get the once-over from the vet department and an X-ray revealed a small bone chip which he preferred to take out before it became an issue.
Jing Jing Win, for his part, pulled up with some cuts to his left hind heel after being galloped on when beaten as a favourite in late March at his latest appearance but didn’t seem to go missing from work at all.
Perhaps that was just an excuse to take him quietly though, as trainer David Hall always said he expected Jing Jing Win to be a better horse with more time and he has been able to give the son of Starcraft another six months development.
All eyes will also be on champion jockey Moreira for more than the usual reasons as he hopes to bounce back from another winless Wednesday at Happy Valley.
Punters won’t be too concerned about the Brazilian’s wipe out midweek when they look at the quality of his mounts at Sha Tin but they might give more thought to whether fatigue could play a part.
Moreira was already in Australia on Thursday ahead of riding Sheidel for David Hayes at the Group One meeting at Moonee Valley on Friday night, flying to Sydney for more Group One rides on Saturday and then he returns overnight to ride at the Sha Tin meeting.
Moreira is a super fit, top flight athlete and, in all likelihood, the busy schedule won’t have an impact but it is a decent assignment all the same, with four meetings in five days plus a short flight and two long-haul flights thrown in for good measure and, as usual, the Magic Man will have a full dance card of 10 rides to get through on Sunday.